Posts Tagged ‘karate

30
Mar
14

Pieces (1982) Bastards and Bloodshed

Pieces

a Primal Root written review

Slasher films were a dime a dozen back in the 1980’s. Once “Friday the 13th” dethroned “The Empire Strikes Back” of it’s number one slot at the box office and proved just how ludicrously profitable this low budget sub-genre that had once been relegated to Grindhouses and Drive-In’s could be,  big studios suddenly hopped on the bandwagon draining every last drop they could out of the fad before leaving the lifeless, dried up corpse of slasher cinema to rot and fester. Yes, it was a glorious time filled with blood, breasts, beasts and masked madmen. Every weekend brought the promise of a new holiday themed slasher film, a new ensemble cast of lovely young people too stupid to stay out of the woods, or the mines, or the haunted house. We hollered our wise advice at the silver screen week after week but to no avail, and we wanted it that way! Boyfriends getting their heads crushed and tossed through windows during the final chase, young actresses we rarely ever heard from again got their quick fifteen minutes of fame as they whipped out they bouncing sweater puppies only to have their throats slit and their sticky, Kayro syrup blood sprayed all over their ample young bosoms. My God, it was a glorious time to be alive.

Of course, I was only 8 when the by the time the 1990’s ushered in the end of that glorious era of the 1980’s. A new cycle of horror began and many pop culture critics considered horror dead which was pretty goddamn stupid of them seeing as “The Silence of the Lambs” swept the Oscars in 1991 and that fuckers one Hell of a horror movie. But it was true in terms of the slasher genre. The well had run dry for the time being and, like long suffering Momma’s Boy Jason Voorhees, went to rest for a while until some new blood could get pumped into the proceedings.  THANKFULLY, at this time in my life there was a plethora of these establishments called “Video Rental Stores” where you (or your parents) could get a membership and you would have an entire collection of movies on VHS right at your finger tips! This, Gang, was where my horror education began.

As a kid I spent countless hours with my butt planted in the Horror aisles picking up every case there, admiring the artwork and reading the descriptions. I was particularly fascinated with the “Friday the 13th” franchise and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” flicks. But one tape at Turtle’s Video always caught my eye. On the front it featured the stitched together corpse of an attractive young blonde with a chainsaw perched over her. “YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO TEXAS FOR A CHAINSAW MASSACRE!” it boldly proclaimed. I was sold.  It would be several years before I was able to convince my Mom to rent it for me, but once she did and I popped that sucker in my VCR my life was changed forever.

PIECES - Silver Ferox v1 web

The movie was the 1982 Spanish splatter flick “Pieces” and it was everything I could have ever possibly hoped it would be.  A goofy Who-Done-It plot set on a college campus, incredible over the top performances, unintentionally hilarious dialogue,  gallons of fake blood and chainsaw dismemberment, impromptu karate instructor attacks, a plethora of nude women including full frontal and a bit of wiener for the ladies, and one of the greatest, strangest, mind blowing jump scare endings I had ever witnessed.  My little preteen mind was rocked. When the tape finished I immediately hit rewind and watched that sucker again.

 

“Pieces” begins in 1942 where we witness a young boy piecing together a puzzle in his playroom. When his Mother discovers that the puzzle is of a naked woman she goes ballistic, calling the young boy’s absentee  Father a filthy, perverted, degenerate and that she’s going to search all through the house and burn everything that features female nudity. She even strikes her son and repeatedly calls him stupid as she slips further into her suitable for Lifetime Television hysterics. But her young son is having none of it,  when she has her back turned he grabs an axe that’s bigger than he is and surprises her with several well placed chops to the noggin’.  Soon after the murder of his mother the boy grabs a hacksaw and goes to town pulling his dead Mom apart. Yes, the boy finishes his puzzle by the time the police barge in and are side stepping meaty chunks and pools of coagulated lady blood  He cries, blames a “big man, big man” and everyone buys his story hook line and sinker. It’s a nasty. bloody, and darkly comical note to begin “Pieces” on, and it only gets better from there.

Pieces - Boy Saw

Present Day 1982 and we’re on a college campus when women start falling prey to a chainsaw killer. A girl gets decapitated while she is out in the park reading, another young woman gets quartered by the swimming pool, and so on… but this shadowy figure dressed in black doesn’t just kill his victims, he collects body parts.  We discover early on that whoever is doing the killings is, in fact, the same little boy who killed his mother all those years ago and is sawing a trail of blood drenched terror through this college campus as he begins putting together a new puzzle.

There’s a rouges gallery of suspects which includes the creepy, shifty eyed caretaker Willard (Paul L. Smith, Bluto from 1980’s Popeye) a quiet, odd duck anatomy teacher, Professor Brown (Jack Taylor) the uptight Dean (Edmund Purdom) and even the dorkish campus stud, Kendal (Ian Sera) who every woman on campus wants to bang for no readily apparent reason. Well, perhaps it was that lovely singing voice displayed in “Pod People?” Ah, who am I kidding, it STINKS! The suspect pool always seems to be hanging around nearby whenever a murder occurs and never fail to act sketchy as Hell no matter what’s going down.

pieces killer

Two detectives are put on the case, the good natured detectives, Ly. Bracken (Christopher George) and hard case Sgt. Holden (Frank Brana), and they’re both equally clueless. One of my favorite moments with these two is during their investigation of the poolside murder and mutilation of a young college girl. She’s been sawed into a pile of about 6 or 7 hunks of flesh and a bloody chainsaw is laying on the floor next to this tall pile of woman. Lt. Bracken asks Proffessor Brown if he believes the chainsaw might be the murder weapon, to which Prof. Brown replies, after a close examination of the chainsaw, that yes, even a layman can see that this was the murder weapon. Damn fine police work, Bracken!

But these two have a secret weapon! They put two of their very best into action as undercover agents. Tennis Pro and party time law enforcement official, Mary Riggs and possible suspect Kendal, who spends most of the investigation either fucking coeds, trying to get into Mary’s pants or showing up too late to prevent murders or apprehend the suspect. I understand, he’s just a college guy, but the man’s kind of an idiot. Hell, ALL the good guys in this thing are idiots. It’s hard to root for these folks when they’re all so grossly incompetent at what they do for a living! It’s uncanny how they always seem to show up about thirty seconds too late to save the chainsaw killer’s nubile young victim. But it’s never to late to repeatedly scream “BASTARD!” at the top of your lungs.  Well, despite the fact that they all suck, they are at least fun to watch bumble their way through one of the most brutal crime sprees ever to take place on a fictional college campus.

pieces pile

After the climactic final murder that takes place in a  women’s locker room, and yes, you get to view the boner trifecta (Boobs, Bush, buns) where a woman is chased topless by our chainsaw toting lunatic into a bathroom stall where she pisses her pants in closeup as he chainsaws his way in to seal her doom, Kendal and Sgt. Holden get some Wendy’s take out and start going through a bunch of files hoping they just might come across something, and oh boy, do they ever! Kendal ends up cracking the case and figuring out who the killer is, but will he and his detective pals get there in time to save the lovely Mary Riggs? And why in the fuck is Kendal allowed to join the two detectives as they kick down to door into a suspected serial killer’s abode? sure, some idiotic, unarmed, college kid wants to come and hang out in this possibly deadly situation? Yeah, sure! Why not.  Trust me, Kendal pays the price for being a dipshit.

Once the killer is revealed and meets his end “Pieces” drops two of the coolest, meanest, most disturbing shock endings on it’s unsuspecting audience. I am really struggling not to tell you what happens, as it’s one of those ingredients that really clenches “Pieces” as one of my all time favorite slasher flicks. You’ve really got to see it to believe it. All I can say is, Kendal’s stud days are over.

Pieces-horror-movies-24128245-1024-768

I cannot express my love enough for this deeply trashy slice of early 80’s exploitation sleaze.  “Pieces” is one of those rare cases where every weakness it has manages to bolster the film up and make it watchable.  This movie should be a failure,  the last thing it should be is entertaining. But despite all it’s flaws it still manages to keep me entertained from beginning to end with it’s total lack of class, it’s crassness and it’s heart warming lack of politcal correctness. Also, all that nudity sure helps the trash go down smoothly, too.  It’s like a Friday the 13th sequel on steroids.  It’s simple, it’s mindless, it’s filthy and it’s the perfect serving a of junk when you need that Trash Cinema pick me up.

I give “Pieces” FIVE out of FIVE Dumpster Nuggets! Classic Trash Cinema!

Stay Trashy!

-Root

 

05
Mar
12

Rape Squad aka: Act of Vengeance (1974)

a Primal Root written review

Okay, we’re getting into a touchy area right now with Rape Squad, the 1974 Rape/Revenge exploitation sleaze fest. Hell, the title alone is enough to make one uncomfortable which may explain it’s alternate title… The rape/revenge format is one of the very few film genres that still disturbs me. I can watch a whole camp full of horny counselors get hacked into chop-suey and laugh my ass off but watching the depiction of anyone, woman or man, being sexually violated always chills my blood and makes me sick to my stomach. It’s probably the last form of violence you can film a fictionalized reenactment of and it will chill my blood.

That being said, the first act of Rape Squad is some pretty harrowing stuff. We are introduced to Linda ( played by the very lovely Jo Ann Harris) who is briskly established as running her own food truck and works with horses. It’s not ten minutes into the movie before Linda is attacked in the middle of the night at the stables. Jack, the man who rapes her, she later finds out is known to the authorities as “The Jingle Bell Rapist” as he always demands his victims sing the popular Christmas carol as he rapes them. Jack seems to be a little obsessed with the holiday season as he is constantly overheard singing carols and compare stripping his rape victims to unwrapping presents. Even stranger, it looks like he’s committing his raping spree in the middle of summer…a little explanation as to why this psychopath is so caught up in the yule tide cheer would have been appreciated. One thing I now know, there’s something REALLY creepy about someone not only forcing sex on you AND making you sing while they do it. It’s some pretty sick, disturbing shit. Not only that, but Jack dressed in an orange jumpsuit and wears a hockey mask and comes off looking like a rape happy, jail break spawnage of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. I’m sure those two are truly disappointed in their son…

The rape scene goes on for what feels like forever as Linda repeatedly fights for her life and escapes the clutches of her attacker several times before finally being brought down and violated. Jack likes to boast that he’s the best and Linda should thank him for kicking her in the face, slapping her around repeatedly and then raping her. It’s all very rough to take and it gets just about as bad as Linda faces the aftermath of having to go down town to the police station to report the crime. She is questioned about the details of the attack (were you drunk? Did you try to resist? Did you provoke the attack?) by a male detective in front of about a dozen perps and fellow lawmen. It’s grueling and extremely uncomfortable to watch as the traumatized young Linda does her best to put up with this disrespect (there’s not another female in sight) before finally justifiably laying into the detective about how she’s being treated like the criminal for having being dressed in a kind of Daisy Duke Lite ensemble when she was assaulted. Of course, she is labeled a bitch and sent to the doctor to undergo a rape kit.

The doctor lays Linda down and repeats the lines “Thata’ girl” and “Take it easy” as he probes and examines her vagina. It’s cold. clinical and the patronizing language the doctor uses makes the whole sequence feel as if Linda’s being raped all over again. The camera stays focused on Linda’s face as she fights back tears and bears the psychological and physical pain. The test results show no traces of semen so now the police assume she made it all up. And, the cherry on top of the insensitive police department sundae arrives as Linda is leaving the station and an officer makes the offhanded comment “Gee, I wish that would happen to me. I’d just sit back and enjoy it. HAR, HAR, HAR!” Linda stop dead in her tracks, gets in this assholes face and verbally turns him into mince meat. It’s really a pitch perfect response to his idiocy and must be seen and heard to feel it’s impact. It’s one of those little monologues where you want to get up and cheer.

The police do nothing, another woman’s house is broken into and she is, like Linda, slowly, methodically, brutalized by the same hockey mask wearing, carol singing, sicko that stalked her down the night before. The police hold a lineup held behind protective chicken wire (WTF?) and all five of the previous victims assemble in order to identify their rapist. This line up turns out to be a waste of time set up to illustrate how impossible the detective’s job is of tracking down the Jingle-Bell Rapist and even harder it will be for the victims to identify him. (“Well, shoot, guys! This case is just too damn hard! We should probably just give up.”) The victims join forces and create an all woman team they call “RAPE SQUAD”! They start taking martial arts lesson replete with a montage of them repeatedly whacking a sparing dummy in the ballsalogical region, creating an emergency phone line for victims of sexual predators, and providing chaperon service to the apparently all male police station so that victims might have a woman present while being asked “So, were you asking for it, miss?”

The RAPE SQUAD learns how to disarm the offending weapon. It's basically like squashing two Cadbury Cream Eggs and flattening a Jimmy Dean cocktail weeny.

Not only that, but they manage to turn the tables on all manner of sex abuse scumbags from dirty night callers whom they accost in dark alleys, strip, shame, and threaten with law suits to angry horrifically scrawny slap happy pimps whose cars the RAPE SQUAD savagely beat with hammers and then crush their testicles and then kick them in the head till the lose consciousness. They even go as far as to go home with forceful, cocky guys to see if they might be the kind to date rape someone. Once the arrogant would-be raper makes their move, the RAPE SQUAD, moves in to destroy their apartment, beat ’em up, tie em down and dye their cock and balls Smurf Blue so they are marked and identifiable if they should ever raise their dicks to rape anyone.

The ladies kick ass and take names all while indulging is in a few totally nude sequences, one of which they go and dip themselves in a hot tub and discuss their plans to begin the RAPE SQUAD. It’s exploitation, pure and simple, and it;s to be expected. They dealt with the worse case scenario of the rape and it’s aftermath so disturbingly well that a little bit of the ladies getting naked and showing off how comfortable they are with themselves and their bodies is kind of commendable. Either that or I am trying to justify the filmmakers for inserting some titillating submerged full frontal nudity and luscious bobbing breasts in order to play to the crowds baser instincts…The hell with it, it’s an exploitation film and that nekkid shower/hot tub scene is integral to the plot! They just finished kung-fu practice, damn it!

The final act of the film bring the RAPE SQUAD face to face with their rapist as he leads the five of them into a final showdown in a dilapidated, abandoned zoo. The final battle is pretty hardcore and even a bit subversive, bloody, and savage. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how The Jingle-Bell Rapist managed to stay so well hidden while wearing a bright orange jumpsuit and blazing white hockey mask…Well, anyway, when the final conflict finally happens it ends up being a match between the rapist and RAPE SQUAD ring leader, Linda over the fate of the Squad and to deliver vengeance onto the individual who scarred the lives of so many woman…

I smell an act of vengeance a'brewin'.

Rape Squad aka Act of Vengeance was a far better film than I was expecting. The subject matter is handled with great care and some fantastic performances are given. The stand out being Jo Ann Harris as Linda who gives everything she’s got and really sells her rage, shame, trauma and eventual strength and triumph over her aggressor. She basically carries the entire picture and is one very talented actress for an early 70’s sleazy exploitation picture. I really do admire the first parts of the film dealing with Linda’s attack and the horrible aftermath. It feels earnest and like the filmmakers really wanted to make a point as to how horrifying the act of rape is and that victims of this crime should be treated with far more care. I mean, it seems almost unimaginable that those sworn to serve and protect would be so callous towards someone whose just been sexually assaulted. still, I’ve heard many accounts of just such thins happening to women who report being attacked and raped and, if you ask me, I would much rather be stalked down and murdered by a Jason Voorhees style slasher (yes, even the spear gun impale through the dick death from The Final Chapter) than go through what Linda does.

It’s only when the film switches gears from the rape to the revenge plot that it delves a bit into the campy side. Like I said, there is an extensive nekkid hot tub scene and some preventative rape violence that I cannot help but assume were played for laughs. Especially when they beat the living hell of of an angry pimp that looks like a skeleton wearing my grandma’s old wardrobe. But without the intensity of the rapes and the ordeal that happens being illustrated so effectively, I doubt the RAPE SQUAD’s actions would be as crowd pleasing as they are.

Rape Squad is not exactly a sexist film…nor is it a feminist film. This is a really odd package deal. I enjoyed it thoroughly and was pleased how all aspects of the picture were handled. It’s an exploitation film that falls into the usual cliches but not before grounding things in stark, cold, reality and showing us the dark side of violence and ignorance. Rape Squad aka Act of Vengeance is an above average grindhouse flick well worth checking out if you’ve got the fortitude for this type of endeavor.

Stay Trashy!

-Root




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